April 10, 2012

China’s Android Dominance

Brett Smith for

Chinese sales of phones running Google´s Android operating system are outpacing all other platforms in the world´s biggest mobile phone market, according to a report from Analysys International, a Beijing-based market research company.

Android phones enjoyed a healthy advantage over other devices, including those running Windows, Linux, and Apple´s iOS operating systems.

At the end of 2011, Android phones dominated the market at 68.4 percent of phones sold. The data showed an upward trend for the phones that accounted for 33.6 percent of devices sold to China℠s estimated 988 million users in the first quarter of last year Analysys attributes Android´s success to the wide range of phones that come with the operating system already installed.

“Android enjoyed wide channel coverage,” the report said. “The global brands include Samsung, HTC, and Sony, whose brand influence is huge and mobile phones are various.”

Chinese manufacturers like ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies have contributed to Android´s popularity with their ability to make cheap handsets that appeal to China´s less wealthy citizens.

The report singled out the iPhone as the third leading mobile OS platform behind the Symbian OS, a Nokia operating system that saw 23.8 percent drop in sales over the course of last year. Analysys said that the iPhone´s price point could be the reason its Chinese sales lag behind that of other phones.

“iPhone´s high price and penetration capability are unable to satisfy the needs of medium and low market,” the report said.

Apple has also yet to aggressively pursue the Chinese market, which is ironic considering the fact that the company manufactures its mobile devices within the country´s borders. Apple´s chief executive Tim Cook visited with China´s vice premier and toured iPhone maker Foxconn last month in a nod to the country´s importance to the California company.

Some are speculating that Cook´s visit could be a prelude to China Mobile signing a deal with Apple that would increase the iPhone´s availability. Since 2009, Apple had an exclusive deal with China Unicom. That ended in March when China Telecom began offering the iPhone 4S at a fully-subsidized price.

Reuters reported in February that China Mobile is “aggressively negotiating” to carry the iPhone and speculation is rampant that a deal between the two companies is only months away. Completion of a deal would bring the device to China Mobile´s 600 million subscribers. That compares to China Telecom´s 117 million and China Unicom 160 million subscribers.

Regardless of the fact that China Mobile does not have a deal with Apple, the company announced in March that it provides service to 15 million iPhones. Subscribers are likely using unlocked phones tethered to the company´s 2G network.

Google dominance of the Chinese mobile phone market mirrors the company´s domestic performance, according to a report published last week from comScore. Data the company gathered since September of last year showed that Android phone have accounted for about half of all phones sold. Apple grabbed the second largest market share with close to 30 percent.